Mike Gismondi especially enjoys the first 10 minutes of baseball practice.
"All we work on is baserunning," Gismondi said.
The practice paid off for West Deptford in a big way in a 6-3 victory over Sterling in a key Colonial Conference clash on a warm and windy Thursday on the Silver Knights' field.
Gismondi, a senior leftfielder, led the way with four stolen bases as well as three runs for West Deptford (4-2 overall, 3-1 in the conference).
Sophomore second baseman Colby Garrison was 2 for 3 with three steals and junior first baseman Jack Murphy delivered a two-run double for the Eagles.
As a team, West Deptford stole 12 bases.
"We were able to steal some bags and it was huge for us," West Deptford coach John Oehler said. "We were able to move guys into scoring position and dump one in here and there."
Senior centerfielder Paul Ganiel had two hits, including a ground-rule double, and scored two runs for Sterling (5-2, 3-2).
"We had some opportunities but we just didn't come through when we needed to," Sterling coach Chris Hoffman said. "We've been playing well, but this game we didn't just play our best."
West Deptford complemented its running game with some strong work in the field. Sophomore rightfielder R.J. Mason made a nice running catch on a drive in the sixth, and junior centerfielder Gabe Finocchi made a pair of strong plays.
In the second inning, Finocchio turned his back and raced close to the fence to track down a blast by Ryan Bax. In the fifth inning Finocchi made a diving catch of a line drive by Mike Tolomeo in the left-field gap.
"Unbelievable," Oehler said of Finocci's diving catch.
Finocchi was surprised to be able to get to Tolomeo's liner.
"It stayed up longer than I expected," Finocchi said.
West Deptford got solid work on the mound from starter Dylan Wakeley, the junior righthander who earned the win. Wakeley went five innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits with five strikeouts.
Finocchi, a righthander, earned the save with two scoreless innings, allowing one hit.
"I love coming in relief," Finocchi said.
But the key to the victory was the Eagles' baserunning. Six players had steals, and the visitors scored three times without a hit on a wild pitch, a passed ball, and an overthrow.
With just two senior starters in Gismondi and catcher Darren McKeown, West Deptford is a work in progress, according to Oehler.
But the Eagles can run.
"It's a good style to play," Oehler said. "If you have guys who can run, you put pressure on the defense, you have the pitchers always throwing over, worrying about holding guys on, now maybe that effects how they throw."
Gismondi said the base-stealing is a sure sign of the Eagles' style of play.
"We're always looking to get a great jump, steal a base, make something happen," Gismondi said. "We practice it all the time."
West Deptford 022 100 1 – 6 8 2
Sterling 110 100 0 – 3 5 3
WP: Dylan Wakeley. LP: C.J. Barrett.